Head of Constantius Chlorus – found in York

Born in 250AD in the Balkans, he first comes to notice during campaigns against Palmyra and subsequently was made governor of  Dalmatia. In 288 he was made Pretorian Prefect to the co-emperor Maximian and campaigned along the Rhine border. In 293 he was appointed Caesar (second in command / vice-Emporeror) of the Western Territories taking command of Hispania (Spain), Gaul (France) and Britannia. This was rather a poisoned chalice since Northern Gaul and Brittainia had been in revolt since 286 and was claimed by the rebel leader Carausius. Constantius defeated both Carausius and Allectus, who had assumed command of the rebels on the former’s death. He set about replacing the rebel administration and introduced the administrative reforms of Diocletian. He continued to divide his time between Britain and the Rhine frontier.

In May 305 he took over from Maximian as Augustus of the West and was joined in Gaul by his son Constantine, who many had expected to be named Cesaer in his father place, but this instead had been given to Severus, a nominee of Galerius, the Augustus of the East. Father and Son crossed over to Britain and campaigned against the Picts north of Hadrians Wall. They retired to York for the winter, but Constantius was taken ill and died. The army, rejecting the Western Cesaer, Severus, acclaimed Constantine as Emporer. In a shrewd political move, Constantine quickly accepted the role of Cesaer to Severus, thus avoiding war and giving him time to prepare for a campaign that would eventually see him control the whole empire.

The Great Northern Museum in Newcastle has a very good collection of Roman tombs and tombstones. Many of these have come from the area of Hadrians Wall and give us an insight into the variety of people serving there and where they originated in the empire.

Some of these give us textual descriptions of the people they commemorate, whilst other also include pictorial representations of the person and their trade.

There also some fine examples of stone sarcophagi.

Yellow Warbler

Posted: July 18, 2018 in Birds, Natural History

This American warbler certainly lives up to its name.



A Male Yellow Warbler.

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Norwich Cathedral (4)

Posted: July 17, 2018 in History, Norfolk, UK

The14th-century altar panel in St Luke’s Chapel


The relic nitch situated beneath the Bishops seat

                Memorial to, and the tomb of, Bishop Herbert, first Bishop of Norwich                              and builder of the first Cathedral in Norwich.

Wonderful architecture and furnishings


The National Submarine War Memorial is situated on the Victoria Embankment. It was unveiled in 1922 to commemorate the submariners lost in WWI. In November 1959, a further list was added to commemorate those lost in WWII and a third panel was added in 1992 on the 70th anniversary of the original unveiling.


Posted: July 13, 2018 in Birds, Natural History

The Jay is a colourful member of the Crow family, yet it can be one of the most difficult to see. It is a shy bird of woodland and often all that is seen is the striking white rump as it crosses openings in the trees. It is resident across much of the UK, though absent in parts of the north of Scotland and west of Ireland and it is estimated that there are about 170,000 breeding pairs in this country.

It is best known for its habit of caching acorns in the autumn, which it will then retrieve during the winter months.

What a wonderful experience. Visited Vindolanda a couple of years ago – a great site

Stephen Liddell

I’ve been so busy with my tours that I haven’t had a day off since April 16th and so my blog posts are currently a bit shorter than usual.  Even last week when I would be walking for up to 11 hours a day, I still had to start and finish my day with what I call Admin Work.

One of the places I most enjoyed visiting last week was the old Roman site of Vindolanda.Vindolanda is one of Europe’s most important Roman archeological sites and every summer archeologists and volunteers from around the world descend on the place.

IMG_9628One photo can’t capture just how big a site Vindolanda is

The site itself comprises at least 8 successive forts of which several were occupied before Hadrian’s Wall was built.  Regiments from across the Empire were garrisoned here. The visible stone fort dates to the early third century and the impressive…

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Spencer Compton was one of the longest-serving government ministers in UK history and holds the unique record of 3 times being asked to form a government and 3 times refusing the offer.

He was born in 1833 and educated at Cambridge. He entered parliament as an MP in 1857 and by 1863 was part of the Liberal cabinet of William Gladstone, serving at the Admiralty and War Office before becoming Postmaster-General. In 1870 he became secretary of state for Ireland. With the election defeat of 1875 and the resignation of William Gladstone, he became the leader of the Liberal opposition. The Liberal party was victorious in 1880, but Compton declined to form a government serving instead as Secretary of State for India (1880-2) and Secretary of Stae for War (1882-5) in Gladstone’s second government. By 1886 Gladstone’s policy on Ireland had seen Compton leave the Liberal party to join the Liberal Unionists, who gained the balance of power in the election that year. Again Compton declined to form a government and also refused to serve in Gladstone’s third government which followed. He was again asked to form a government the following year but again refused, seeing his best role as having freedom of action to follow his own policies. In 1891 he became Duke of Devonshire, succeeding his Father and transferred to the House of Lords, where he continued to argue for the policies he had backed when an MP. From 1895-1902, he again served in the cabinet of Lord Salisbury’s government and for a short time under Arthur Balfour who succeeded Salisbury as Prime Minister. He resigned in 1903 and died in Cannes in 1908 as a result of pneumonia.

This statue stands in Whitehall close to the centre of UK Government.

Norwich Cathedral (3)

Posted: July 10, 2018 in History, Norfolk, UK

Some of my favourite things about Norwich Cathedral.


Most striking is the font. Originally a vessel from a local chocolate factory, it was presented to the Cathedral and converted into a font when the factory closed.


The medieval font

The Pulpit


Wall painting

Organ and Lectern

Water Vole

Posted: July 9, 2018 in London, Mammals, Natural History, UK, Uncategorized

During my IT downtime recently Keith and I visited the London Wetland Centre and I was fortunate enough to get these shots of a Water Vole hiding in the undergrowth. The Water Vole is an elusive and secretive mammal and this is only the second one I have ever seen.